England vs Fiji: Eddie Jones delays naming squad with Elliot Daly, Billy Vunipola and Nathan Hughes struggling

Jones was due to name the squad at 10am on Thursday morning but will now confirm his starting line-up on Friday

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The Independent Online

Eddie Jones has delayed naming his side to face Fiji at Twickenham this weekend until Friday to give Elliot Daly, Billy Vunipola and Nathan Hughes as much time as possible to recover from injuries picked up in the 37-21 victory over South Africa.

Jones initially planned to name his team at 10am on Thursday morning, but an announcement confirmed the squad unveiling had been pushed back until 2.30pm in order to allow the England squad to train in the morning before the head coach faced the media.

But news of a second postponement came less than 10 minutes before Jones was due to appear, and he confirmed upon his arrival that we will hold off naming his squad for 24 hours due to knocks that were picked up in last weekend’s victory over the Springboks.

“We are prepared for a difficult game but have had a great preparation, albeit with some injury concerns,” Jones said. “There are a few injury concerns which we're sorting through at the moment. We're announcing the team on Friday."

Jones normally announces his squad 48 hours before matches, but he added: "This delay is a deviation from our normal procedure but is in line with the regulations for team announcements.

"Billy and Nathan are still carrying knocks from the previous game. Elliot Daly is also carrying a knock from the previous game and we're looking to see how they resolve themselves over the next 24 hours before making a final decision.

Wasps back-row Hughes had been in line to make his first start for England against the country of his birth this weekend, having made his debut off the replacements’ bench last weekend, but after initially overcoming a leg injury to train earlier this week, it looks like he has suffered a minor setback.

"It's ongoing, sometimes these things take a good turn and sometimes they take a bad turn,” Jones continued. "You get more information or less information, good information or bad information. We're processing all that."

England trained on Thursday at Pennyhill Park with Bath centre Jonathan Joseph lining up outside Owen Farell with Daly shifted out to the wing, while Gloucester flyer Jonny May was absent from the session and looks likely to be ruled out of this weekend’s encounter against the Pacific Islanders.

Vunipola meanwhile trained on Tuesday but was a notable absentee on Thursday, and having suffered from “upper body soreness” following his shift at Twickenham last week, Jones looks set to rotate him with Hughes with Northampton Saints flanker Teimana Harrison likely to come in at openside flanker.

Tom Wood, who had been send back to Franklin’s Gardens for the weekend, could find himself recalled if either or both of Hughes and Vunipola fail to recover in time. With May unlikely to feature and Daly struggling, Exeter Chiefs’ Henry Slade could be handed a recall, which would then see Joseph shifted out to the wing to cover for Daly’s absence. England are already without wings Anthony Watson and Jack Nowell after they suffered injury in England’s training camp last month.

The Australian was keen to praise Fiji in the build-up to England’s second of four Autumn internationals, and managed to come up with another of is unique explanations of his he wants the match to pan out in order for the red rose to claim an 11th successive victory under his guidance and maintain his unbeaten start to life as England head coach.


Nathan Hughes was expected to start against the country of his birth (Getty)

“Fiji play a fantastic brand of rugby. It is full of talent if you can leave [Nikola] Matawalu on the bench,” Jones said. “Fiji want a cava party. We don't want a cava party. We want fish and chips.”